Monday, 4th October, 2010 Museveni greets officers from the EU military committee at State House Entebbe. The team is here to discuss the Somalia war By Herbert Ssempogo and Anne Mugisa THE al-Shabaab, an outfit infamous for terror in Somalia, has lost more strategic positions and areas to the transitional government forces backed by the Ugandan and Burundian peacekeepers. Uganda has some 4,300 troops in Somalia supporting the countrys embattled government against the Islamist insurgents. In July, al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the bomb blasts that claimed 79 lives in Kampala. The militants said they were opposed to Ugandas presence in Somalia. The secured areas are in the Somali capital Mogadishu, according to a statement from the AMISOM force spokesman, Major Barigye Ba-Hoku. Newly captured areas are Taribune Square, the former military hospital, Taleh Hotel and many other places in that area. The areas are close to Bakara Market, the groups launching pad for mortars that wreak havoc in the city. The move into these positions is designed to inhibit the groups ability to hide behind non-combatants and should result in a drastic reduction of civilian casualties in the city. Their ejection from Bakara is also expected to reduce their means of making war as they have been extorting money from the traders at the market, Major Barigye Ba-Hokus statement said. Clan divisions and disputes over command, policies and the role of foreign fighters within Al-Shabaab are believed to have caused the losses Al-Shabaab suffered in the August/September offensive Barigye also revealed that the Al-Shabaabs deputy commander-in-chief, Mukhtar Robow, has since withdrawn his forces from the city owing to rifts within the extremist group and moved his forces to Bay and Bakool regions of southern Somalia. Robow is reportedly considering forming a new group to be called Al Itihadul Islamia, and is apparently consolidating his forces in anticipation of a coming fight with his former comrades most probably Ahmed Godanes group, Takfir. Barigye said there were also reports that Robow had been expelled from the 10 member Shura Council that is made up of 4 Somalis and 6 foreigners, a sign of foreign domination of the Al Shabaab. Robows forces, mostly from the Rahawein clan, bore the brunt of these casualties, with nearly 10 percent of the estimated two thousand men he had deployed in the city killed The withdrawal of Robows fighters is a massive body blow to the Al-Shabaab insurgents as they constituted a big portion of the groups fighting force during the offensive. The extremists are attempting to replace the lost capacity by abducting children into service. Sources say nearly 2000 children are being held and undergoing training in the groups camps in Central Somalia, Barigye said. He is allegedly close to Hassan Dahir Aweys, leader of the rival Hizbul Islam militia, who has also pulled out his forces from the capital. This leaves Al-Shabaab isolated at a time when the Transitional Federal Government troops, supported by African Union forces are making gains on the ground in Mogadishu. Meanwhile, the European Union Military Committee, the highest military body in the EU Council arrived in Uganda yesterday to on a two day visit to discuss the Somalia crisis. The committee members are drawn from Generals of the European member state armies. The 27 Chiefs of Defence of the EU member States led by their Chairman from Sweden, Gen. Hakan Syren met President Yoweri Museveni at State House before holding meetings with Ugandan Generals at the Imperial Royale Hotel in Entebbe. A communiqué issued by the EU yesterday said that Africa is high on the list of strategic partners.